Personal statement is a crucial element

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 April, 2008, 12:00am

Most of my adult students tell me they are taking a course in English to help them improve their long-term employment prospects. Then when I ask them to tell me a little about their job, their strengths and weaknesses, they struggle. So for the next couple of weeks we're going to focus on compiling a few paragraphs about what you can say about yourself professionally, a spoken resume, a personal statement which neatly summarises your career to date.

The first thing you need to be able to do effectively is describe your job and what it involves. If you work in customer services, do not say, 'My job task is to deal with customers'. Do say, 'I am responsible for dealing with customers face-to-face', or 'My job involves dealing with customers'. If you want to use the word task, you will have to use it in its plural form, so you could say something along the lines of, 'I am a customer services assistant and my job tasks are to deal with our customers, liaise with suppliers and organise product distribution'. When describing the nature of your everyday job, list more than three things you do: 'My job involves ...; I am responsible for ...; On a day-to-day basis I have to ...'

After you have said clearly what your job is all about, then you should have a sentence prepared which can either describe how long you have been doing this job or why you took it. For example, 'I moved into this role last year after a restructuring', or 'I took this position six months ago because I wanted to gain some experience in this area', or 'I have been doing this job since 2006 and in that time, I have learned an extensive amount about the whole area'.

Article is contributed by Kathryn Kelly, a teacher at the British Council. Visit for previous articles